From Montreal to Ottawa to Calgary: the wild journey of the Poulin family to experience Samuel's debut with the Penguins

From Montreal to Ottawa to Calgary: the wild journey of the Poulin family to experience Samuel's debut with the Penguins

MISE & Agrave; DAY

“When we got into the car that was taking us to the Saddledome in Calgary, we were all glued to our cell phones watching the game. We screamed like crazy when Sam got his pass.” 

Sam's first pass is Samuel Poulin. The one who tells the story is the mother, Annick Corbeil Poulin.

Last Tuesday, Poulin donned the Pittsburgh Penguins uniform for the first time in the NHL. He experienced his baptism in a 4-1 loss against the Flames in Calgary. He participated in the goal of Evgeni Malkin at the start of the second period.

Recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Oct. 23, Poulin watched a first game from the press deck the following day against the Oilers in Edmonton. But on October 25 around 11:30 a.m., he learned that he would be playing against the Flames.

“I found out during our team meeting the morning of the game, Poulin said in an interview with Journal. During the meeting, I tried to listen as much as possible and not to think too much about what I had just heard. But it was difficult. We had dinner and time for a nap. I didn't close my eyes too much, the emotions were in the carpet and I didn't yet realize what was going to happen in the next few hours. It was pretty crazy.”

“After the game, it was even crazier when I saw my family. I was so happy to see them. It was just a great day. I felt like hugging them. As soon as I saw my family, I hugged my brother (Nicolas). He was the first to come to see me. He told me he was proud of me and that he knew I was going to make it to the NHL. I received good words from everyone.”

Race against time

On this Tuesday morning in October, the weather is glorious in Quebec. Annick Corbeil Poulin takes a health walk with friends she hasn't had the chance to see for some time. A call from Pennsylvania made her retrace her steps at breakneck speed.

“You can ask my friends, but I had to walk really fast,” says the mom, bursting out laughing. There are a lot of things going through my head. It was the start of a wild ride.”

Around 1:15 p.m. Montreal time, Jason Seidling, the Penguins' director of operations, telephones Samuel's mother to inform her that he will play his first NHL game at 7 p.m. Calgary time (9 p.m. in Quebec). /p>

The plane takes off at 3:30 p.m. from Dorval.

“I was sweating when I arrived at the airport, says the mother. I had just had time to pack a small suitcase for the plane. My daughter had ballerina shoes and there was snow in Calgary. We didn't have a winter coat, so we left with the bare minimum.”

“When we wanted to check in, the flight attendant told us that security had just closed. , that it was too late. But I explained the story. She called security and they agreed to open the doors for us.”

From Montreal, the Poulin family went through Ottawa and then landed in Calgary. At 7:30 p.m., the plane landed.

There were 12 minutes left in second when we took our seats, says Annick Corbeil Poulin with a smile in her voice. We missed his first appearance, his first pass, but we were there for his first game. And we were there to congratulate him.”

The Penguins bill

The Penguins acted with tremendous class for the family of their first choice 2019 draft. They paid for everything: four plane tickets, four tickets to the game and the hotel. 

“It really is class. Our family has been in the NHL for thirty years with Patrick who played. I had never heard a story like that. I didn't think they were into taking care of kids' tickets too, not just parents.”

“When the gentleman from the Penguins called (Jason) he asked me if Kathryn and Nicolas were coming. I asked him the price for the tickets and that I was to contact them. He told me the Penguins paid for the whole family. My 14 month old grandson, my daughter's boy, also made the trip.”

“When we arrived at the hotel, there was a bottle of wine with chocolate and a note of the team to congratulate us. It was big, big class.”

An assist on a goal from a legend

Samuel Poulin will never forget his first game with the Penguins

To 21-year-old Samuel Poulin put his two skates on NHL ice for the first time. He was realizing his dream as a little boy.

Tradition obliges, Poulin took a solo ride during the warm-up period at the Saddledome in Calgary.

“Yes, I was nervous,” he says. My legs were shaking. The only thing I said to myself in my head was: “I must not fall”. It was happening so fast. I felt emotions like draft day. When the Penguins said my name, I found myself in a bit of a fog. I didn't quite realize what I was going through. It was pretty much the same feeling for my first game. It's happening too quickly.”

Used at the center of the third line with Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen for just over 12 minutes, Poulin wrote his name on the score sheet by participating in the unique goal for his team, a goal scored by Evgeni Malkin on the power play.

“Yes, it's cool to get my first point with an assist on a goal from Malkin,” he replies. When the game was done, it was happening really fast. I didn't even see the puck go into the net. I just heard a heavy noise in the crowd. After the goal, I stayed on the ice for my presence with my regular line. It was only when I came back to the bench that I realized that I had just obtained my first point in the NHL.”

After the game, Poulin also received good words from his captain, Sidney Crosby.

“Sid didn't speak to me before the game. He spoke to me more after the game to congratulate me and tell me that I had played a good game.”

The Poulin family fridge

“I I'm going to walk a bit to get away from the noise.” These were the first words of Annick Corbeil Poulin during a call with Le Journal.

Thursday night, she was watching her oldest boy, Nicolas, for a Pétroliers du Nord game against the Sorel-Tracy Sparrowhawks at the old Laval Coliseum in the North American Hockey League. Two days earlier, she followed Samuel's debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Flames in Calgary with her whole family.

At the end of the line, she describes the emotions experienced during this famous evening at the Saddledome .

“I was thinking about all the work, all the evenings after school or the weekends. Yes, there was the arena, but there was also Sam shooting pucks in the garage. There was the little guy running with his dogs or throwing a ball and skating to get there before them.”

“Sidney (Crosby) had his famous clothes dryer. For us, it was a fridge with a poked door. We moved it to keep it as a souvenir. Hours and hours practicing his sport. We had a rink outside and he didn't need a friend to play. He left with cones and he asked his father to give him a practice. He was very small, he was seven or eight years old. He has always had a great passion for his sport.”

“After the game Sam didn’t have many words. But he was so happy to see us, to realize that we had managed to catch our flights on time. He was not alone for this game. I just had words to congratulate him. I asked him if he realized a little that he now had his foot in the door of the NHL. I spoke more than him! I told him to be proud of himself. There was emotion, a bit like in the repechage. You replay the last 15 years in your head.

The next destination will be Vancouver and Seattle where the Penguins will play their next two games. Dad (Patrick) and mom (Annick) are planning to travel from Montreal to British Columbia on Friday. And they'll leave a little earlier…

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